Everyone loves rats, amiright? Okay, fine. But if we've learned anything from such classic films as Ratatouille and ... umm, others ... it's this: Rats are pretty darn talented. So, it pains me to report that, after careful stock photo analysis, rats are actually pretty bad at modeling. Like, horrible. Here are seven reasons why. 

1. THEY DODGE EYE CONTACT WITH FELLOW STOCK PHOTO MODELS.

 

2. THEY DON'T LIKE TO SHARE THE SPOTLIGHT.

 

3. THEY CAN EVEN BE A LITTLE CAMERA SHY.

 

4. SAYING "CHEESE" JUST REALLY CONFUSES THEM.

 

5. THEY OFTEN FAIL THAT STOCK PHOTO STAPLE: SMILING WITH MILK 

 

6. THEY SOMETIMES BLEND RIGHT INTO WHITE SPACE.

 

7. THEY EAT PROPS.

 

BUT, EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, THEY GET IT RIGHT. (Awwwww.)

See even more rat stock photo models in our very special Oh Rats! lightbox below, filled with royalty-free photos. Happy downloading.

Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield
CategoriesFun Friday

If you’re new to video editing, there is a wealth of tools to choose from to help you with your filmmaking projects. Fortunately, most of what you need to get started, including software, storage, and handy gadgets, is either free or relatively inexpensive. So, if you’re ready to become the next Scorsese, Spielberg, Soderbergh, or some other director with a last name beginning with S, check out some of the basics you’ll need to start editing your own videos.

Pre-Installed Software

Both Mac and PC come with two great pre-installed options. If you use a Mac, you should definitely check out iMovie. This is one of the best video-editing software tools to get you going quickly. Most of the features are drag and drop, and you’ll find that the options for cutting out and adding footage (or even sound) are quick and efficient.

The software comes with a nicely organized video library, and you’ll find many movie themes that give you fast access to transitions, titles, backgrounds, and more. There's even a great tool to help you make your own movie trailers.

If you’re a PC user, Movie Maker 12 is worth a look. If it’s not pre-installed on your computer, you can download it for free from the Microsoft website. Like iMovie, the editing tools are fairly simple to learn, and the software comes with a great selection of themes. Movie Maker 12 also lets you add and edit your own audio. And, it also makes it easy for you to import and edit movies from all of your devices—video recorders, smartphones, tablets, and more.

Free Downloads

Outside of pre-installed software, there are lots of great (and free) downloads for both Mac and PC.

For Mac users, the top choice is Blender. This is not your average beginner’s software, but, if you’re willing to put in some time, you will find that it is one of the best editing programs available, even when compared to high-end paid software.

Not only does Blender give you a fully-featured video-editing suite, it also gives you the ability to create your own special effects, including:

  • 3D modeling
  • Simulations of water, smoke, hair, and more
  • HDR imaging support
  • Materials and textures for animated videos

What makes Blender especially nice is that it’s backed by a huge open-source community that is constantly designing new extensions. This gives you countless ways to expand the software even further as you learn and tackle new tasks.

On the PC side, Kate’s Video Toolkit is a great choice. This software gives you several valuable assets, including:

  • Well-rounded file conversion tools
  • The ability to stitch multiple videos together
  • Audio and video mixing
  • Tools for changing frame sizes and aspect ratios

Kate’s Video Toolkit also comes with a library of more than 70 transitions, which means you’ll never be at a loss for new and interesting effects.

VSDC Free Video Editor is another solid download for PC.  The program takes some extra effort in mastering, but the learning curve is worth it. VSDC Video Editor gives you the full range of video-editing tools along with a useful selection of filters, audio effects, drawing tools, and other nifty features. It also lets you correct color and lighting problems.

Paid Software

The selection of paid software options is a little thinner than the selection of free downloads, but there are still a couple of notable programs that beginners should consider checking out. At $59, AVS Video Editor is a great value for PC users. Features include Blu-ray support, a broad range of supported file formats, the ability to make custom DVD and Blu-ray menus, and a huge library of more than 300 transitions and effects.

Adobe Premiere Elements 13 is the beginner version of the Adobe Premiere Pro suite, and at $79, it’s definitely worth your while. Available for both Mac and PC, this software gives you most of the Pro version’s functionality while being much easier to learn. There are several cool features to be found here, including:

  • An easy-to-use timeline that lets you drag and drop clips
  • A solid suite of editing and trimming tools
  • Tons of effects, transitions, and themes

Two things that are particularly useful for beginners are the modes that come with the program — InstantMovie and Expert Mode. InstantMovie gets you started quickly, while the Expert Mode lets you work on your own once you’ve become comfortable with the software.

Storage, Gadgets, & Other Must-Haves

Software isn’t the only thing you’ll need to get started. Because video files tend to be large, you’ll need storage, too — and lots of it. Invest in a good external hard drive, such as LaCie, to back up and store your files. You may also want a stack of recordable discs as a secondary means of backing up your work, and a selection of flash drives is handy if you need to transport files between computers.

USB hubs are invaluable to video editors, especially if you find yourself working on a laptop with a limited number of USB ports. Whether it’s to sync your video recorder, smartphone, and tablet, or to add space for extras like stylus pads, you can never have too many USB ports.

Farther down the road, you may want to invest in high-tech LCD video-editing monitors, but in the beginning, you can start with a simple secondary monitor to plug into your desktop or laptop. Dual monitors have a variety of uses, as they allow you to:

  • Compare the original footage with the edited version
  • Place your tools on one monitor so your project can be full-screen on the other
  • Watch a live preview on one monitor as you work on the other

Just remember, you don’t have to make a large investment to start editing videos. Most of the best software is free. And, when it comes to gadgets, all you really need in the beginning is an inexpensive storage solution, and perhaps another monitor to make editing a little easier.

Try some of the things we’ve recommended—don’t forget to make use of our library of video clips on Bigstock Video, too—and you’ll find yourself editing video like a pro in no time.

Header illustration from Bigstock contributor Awindle.

Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield
CategoriesTutorials

The streets of an urban landscape exude personality in a multitude of ways. Store fronts, sidewalks, and the exteriors of apartment buildings are rather straightforward visuals, but do provide their own bit of neighborhood flavor. And then there's street art. While "graffiti" has carried a controversial reputation over time, more and more cities have actually begun commissioning such street art works from its own respective local artists.

Check out some of our favorite royalty-free street art photos below from around the USA. These images are for editorial use only and are available for downloading. Enjoy the virtual tour.

 
 
 
 
 

To browse through other graffiti hot spots, check out the below lightbox, filled with royalty-free editorial images.

Top header image by Bigstock contributor Jon Bilous.

Posted
AuthorAshley Hefnawy
CategoriesGalleries

This week's free image is a gorgeous shot of Monument Valley in Utah. The photo beautifully captures the colors and natural spectacle of the landscape. The image will be available for free downloading until 11:59pm EST, Sunday March 29, 2015. 

The photo comes to us from Bigstock contributor Lucky-Photographer, from a collection that also include royalty-free photos of foggy bridges, towering trees, and lovely lighthouses. Happy downloading.

Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield

Yes, pancakes are wondrous things. Heck, we've even sung their praises in a pretty pancake blog post. But, quite frankly, waffles are far easier to work with when it comes to a warm breakfast, not to mention food photography. There's no "fluffiness" ratios to be concerned with, and the syrup stays right in those little waffle pockets, as opposed to running down the sides in an unsightly fashion.

So, in honor of Waffle Day (March 25), we proudly present this gorgeous, curated collection of royalty-free waffles photos. Enjoy.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

For more syrup-soaked shots, check out all twenty-two royalty-free waffle photos in our Waffles Waffles Waffles lightbox, below. Happy downloading.

Header image by Bigstock contributor Aitormmfoto

Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield

That old cliché “never judge a book by its cover” may be true, but it doesn't mean we can't judge the actual book covers. And, because eBooks follow different guidelines than print books, there are some key points you need to know to ensure that your digital book looks both appropriate and professional. Here are six essential tips to finding eBook images:

Tip 1: Make An Image Shopping List

eBooks come in many shapes, sizes, and formats, which means there are no rules that apply across the board when it comes to the number of images you’ll need. If you’re publishing a novel, you’ll only need a picture for the cover—and maybe small graphics for the chapter headings—so the image you choose should immediately evoke the feel of the content. When your book comes up in Amazon’s or Google’s search results, for example, the thumbnail of your cover should be simple enough so that it’s easily visible.  

Marketing materials and instructional eBooks, however, may feature one or more images on every page. In this context, the images are meant to illustrate, emphasize, or clarify the words. You can also use images to create headers, footers, sidebars and attractive calls to action.

If you’re creating this kind of eBook, follow these guidelines to make sure you have a good balance of text and images:

  • Use graphics to highlight the most interesting or important points.
  • Add diagrams or other visuals to explain difficult concepts.
  • Create graphs and charts to help your readers visualize and compare data.


Tip 2: Know Your Sizes

When it comes to image quality and resolution, bigger is always better. For eBook covers, it’s important to remember that every publisher has its own requirements. For instance, Amazon recently updated their minimum cover width to 2,820 pixels, but other eBook publishers have much smaller minimum widths.

In general, choose images that are at least 3,000 pixels wide. While e-readers come in several shapes and sizes, a 6 x 9 aspect ratio will ensure that your cover can be modified to fit a variety of formats. Images within your eBook can be any size or resolution, but you’ll want to make sure that the image file size is 5 megabytes or less so they load easily on slower Internet connections.

Pixels per inch (PPI) is another important consideration. Make sure that all your images have at least 300 PPI. Higher PPI is even better because it means that your images will scale to larger screens without losing clarity or detail.

Your images should be PNGs or JPEGs. Some digital publishers prefer JPEGs, but many accept PNGs as well. Amazon, for example, requires a 1,400-pixel-wide JPEG of your eBook cover. Always check the guidelines of individual eBook publishers.

Tip 3: Be Consistent

Real estate isn't the only industry where location, location, location is paramount. Image placement is key to creating an attractive eBook, so choose images that can easily fit within the margins of your text. Graphics such as bullets, icons, arrows, headers, and footers should all be the same size throughout the entire eBook. Graphs, charts, diagrams, and sidebars may vary in length, but you can keep your pages looking uniform by making sure that they’re all the same width.

When it comes to layout, consistency is the most important factor. For example, if you’re presenting a series of charts on one page, centering one visual but right-aligning another will lead to a disorganized look.


Tip 4: Stick with a Theme

eBook images need to match your overall theme in two ways. First, your images should all fit within a visual motif. Basically, don’t mix quirky cartoons with sophisticated photos (unless there’s a specific reason for doing so ... but it better be a real good reason). If you’re creating an eBook for your business, be sure that the images, colors, and fonts match your brand's style guide.

Secondly, your images should also match the subject and voice of your writing. If your work has a humorous tone, feel free to use fun, flat icon style graphics and other lighthearted images. For writing that is geared towards a business audience, choose images that have a straight-forward professional look to them.

Tip 5: Think Mobile

Whether your eBook is promotional, instructional, or a work of fiction, you can guarantee that at least a portion of your readers will be using mobile devices. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, over 30 percent of all smartphone owners read eBooks on their devices.

To avoid excluding the mobile audience, you’ll need to break down complex data visualizations into the simplest elements. It's always better to create two separate images than to provide an overly-complicated one. This way, your mobile readers won’t have to zoom and scroll (as much) to see the facts and statistics you’re offering, and the uncomplicated images will still look great on larger tablets and desktop displays.


Tip 6: Know Your "Rights"

A rights-managed image is one that you purchase for a specific use and a certain length of time. If you buy a rights-managed image for use on a particular blog post, for example, you can’t use it in your eBook until your license expires, at which point you may be able to buy the license again for a different project. Royalty-free image websites, like Bigstock.com (... ahem), have far fewer restrictions. Royalty-free images also tend to be much less expensive than rights-managed images. 

Also, remember to give credit where credit is due in terms of citing sources of your images. The best way to attribute an image is to add a link back to the source underneath the image. Be sure that the link’s anchor text lists the name of the image’s creator and, depending on your usage agreement, the website of origin.

When it comes to images for your eBook, deciding on the most appropriate ones for your brand is just as important as displaying them in a way that helps your reader engage with the work you've created. Once you’ve ironed out the basics, you’re then free to focus on themes, layout, and other fun design elements. Have fun, good luck, and be sure to enjoy the process!
 

Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield
CategoriesTutorials

The city of Dublin, Ireland is roughly 45 square miles, and yet, produces an astonishing 10 million pints of Guinness a day. Could it have something to do with the fact that nearly half of its population is a sprightly 25 years of age (or under)? Or, is it simply because Dublin is a whole lot of fun? A great mix of lively pubs and quiet public spaces, hot spots and history, the city is a treasure trove of finds for both the social butterfly and the bookworm .

So, in honor of St. Patrick's Day (March 17), we're shining our City Spotlight on Dublin, Ireland. Check out our very special curated collection below, filled with royalty-free photos. Please Note: Some of the images in this post are for editorial use only.

The Temple Bar

 
 

North Bank of the River Liffey

 

The Malahide Castle

 

The Oliver St. John Gogarty Bar

 

Spire of Dublin

 
 

Custom House

 

For even more of Dublin's duality, be sure to check out the rest of our royalty-free collection below. Happy downloading. 

Header image from Bigstock contributor Honster

Posted
AuthorAshley Hefnawy
CategoriesGalleries

This week's free image is a stunning field of gold, and it won't cost you a penny. This beautiful landscape can help a bumper crop of your agricultural marketing exploits. It will be available for free downloading until 11:59pm EST, March 22nd, 2015.

The image comes to us from Bigstock contributor Milosz_G, from a collection that also includes royalty-free photos of thunderstorms, frozen tundras, and gorgeous green pastures. Happy downloading. 

Posted
AuthorBrian Masefield

NYC's Central Park has an enchanting, magical quality. Where some parts are devoid of nature, other areas thrive in what seems to be another world. Bigstock contributor gary718 captures this juxtaposition in a way that's both beautiful and unique.

Part of this series' charm is the use of grayscale over the infrared that makes each photo appear wintry. In reality, the photos were most likely taken in springtime (notice the leaves on the trees). Browse through his royalty-free photos below, and enjoy the glimpse of Central Park. Each image is available for downloading. 

 
 
 

Check out even more unique shots of NYC from the royalty-free collection of Bigstock contributor Gary718, and enjoy the curated lightbox, below, featuring more of his infrared work. Happy downloading.

Posted
AuthorAshley Hefnawy

Need some inspiration for your child's next big bash? Fear not. Bigstock contributor Pink Pueblo has a fresh collection of cool, creative, and kid-friendly imagery, especially suitable for DIY party invitations and birthday cards. 

Scroll through to see some fun highlights from this royalty-free collection, and check out even more seamless patterns and fabulous color schemes in the full Bigstock Pink Pueblo collection!

 
 
 
 
 

Check out more of Pink Pueblo's work below, filled with dazzling royalty-free illustrations. Happy downloading. 

Posted
AuthorAshley Hefnawy